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Issue Date:- 23 December 2008


COMMENTING on reports of the increased demand for relationship and debt counselling, highlighted by the Local Government Association today, Heather

Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government said:- “Christmas can put a lot of emotional strain on families any year. This year, because of the credit crunch and job losses, many are also under severe financial pressure, making for a very unhappy cocktail this Christmas.

Local Government workers provide a safety net for families by giving all important relationship and debt counselling. In addition, fears over house repossessions have fuelled the number of calls for help. It is easy to underestimate the range of services provided by local authorities. But during these difficult times, local people can turn to their council for help and support."

Merseyside's Max Spielmann and Klick shops Will Stay Open

2008 HAS been a bad year on the High Street, with many big names folding. It looked like was it was going to be the end for High Street Max Spielmann and Klick shops, but the administrators of Bowie Castlebank sold the service business for an undisclosed sum on Friday, 19 December 2008. The Wythenshawe-based key cutting and shoe repair chain, Timpson, will now be running the 187 former Max Spielmann and Klick shops, but has now closed all the Munro dry cleaning business. John Timpson, who is the chairman of 143 year old shoe repair and locksmiths chain Timpson.

David Evans has been brought to run the venture. Interestingly, he was previously part of a management team who ran Max Spielmann in the 1990s, before the sale to Bowie Castlebank.

Editors ramblings about 2008

THE beginning of the year was an interesting one from a national point of view. January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet, with a significant cooling, making people question the idea about globe warming, especially since January 2007 started out well above normal as well. Good weather and the feeling we would have a national election in 2008 meant the UK was buzzing. But since September 2007 a strange atmosphere had been building in the business world. In the UK, eyes were on Northern Rock. Most people did not worry at that stage, yet looking back over 2008; we should have sounded the tsunami warning... Speculation about an early election turned political farce and in the business world, by March 2008, it was no better. It was then that the first signs of a major, global problem came into the public' attention, as the National and International media asked questions about Lehman Brothers? "Will the well known Wall Street bank to go bust?" Should the UK have braced itself... Should the writing on the wall have been visible to big businesses on the High Street? By May, the Hilco, only three weeks after acquiring the 170 store MK One discount fashion chain, fell into administration. It was one of the first major High Street victims of the storm, which was to ensue. What was especially interesting was the fact that it had been sold by an Icelandic investment group, Baugur. Speeding onwards, it was then shock after shock as one big name after another came into difficulty. Next came the biggest shock of all... Banks all over the world had been perceived as safe as houses. They invested in railway stocks and mining companies and bankers were highly responsible members of the business world. In 2008, this view was to change forever! By the end of December, we had seen the demise of one of the UK's best-loved, high street names, Woolworths. If any one was to ask me what sums up 2008 for me... I could not pick any one national press story for 2008, as it has been such an eventful year... I have to say the word "closed" came up lots of times though! We have to get ready now for a hard 2009, nationally. Locally, I do feel that here on Merseyside, if we all pull together and build on Capital of Culture, our area should see lots of opportunities for small businesses to take off. Well let's see what 2009 has in store for us all. One thing is for certain, it will be a year of dramatic changes for us all.

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